MPs want a law exempting business owners from paying rent in emergency times

Members of Parliament on the Physical Infrastructure Committee have proposed a law that bars business owners and other persons in rented premises from remitting rent during times of emergency such as national lockdowns and catastrophic situations.

The lawmakers want this to be included in the Landlord and Tenant Bill 2021 which is currently under scrutiny.

This suggestion was made by Sarah Opendi, the Tororo District Woman MP who was supported by a section of fellow lawmakers while receiving views from the business operators under their umbrella body, Kampala Capital City Traders Association (KACITA).

Opendi, who also doubles as the Energy State Minister based her suggestion on the shocks fueled by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and other emergencies explaining that it would be unfair for landlords to press tenants to remit rent even after the occurrence of emergencies.

With specific reference made to the tragic twin bombings on Tuesday morning that shuttered property and claimed lives before halting business in Kampala, Opendi said this would minimize the possibilities of businesses collapsing.

In response, a section of the KACITA officials through their Spokesperson Mr. Issa Ssekito said much as the proposal safeguards tenants, there are fears that the proposal would be strongly opposed by landlords.

“So the time to notify someone to increase rent to KACITA, we think it is still reasonable because if you are going to increase my rent for three months, I would have a reason or a chance to either vacate after locating a different place where I am going to work from or organize and be ready for your increment,” Mr. Ssekito said.

The KACITA leadership asked Parliament to reverse the decision by landlords demanding tenants within major outlets in the City Centre to remit their rent charges in the US dollar currency.

However, Ssekito requested parliament to enact a provision that would allow landlords through contractual agreements to compel their tenants to remit rent in dollars

“It is important that we respect the Uganda shilling because it is the basis upon which we shall value it. If you don’t give weight to the Uganda shilling, nobody else will respect it,” Ssekito added.

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